Government Allocates N250bn to Develop Special Economic Zones

The federal government wednesday in Abuja unfolded plans to spend N250 billion for the development of special economic zones across the six geo-political zones of the country in pursuit of the country’s industrialisation agenda.

Making this disclosure while briefing journalists at the end of a six-hour weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in the State House, the Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, said of the N250 billion earmarked for the projects, N40 billion was contained in the 2017 budget while another N40 billion is contained in the newly signed 2018 budget.

Enelamah said consequently, the council approved two memoranda presented by his ministry, one of which he said sought the council’s approval for the implementation of Projects Made in Nigeria Exports, otherwise known as Project-MINE initiative.

According to him, the initiative is aimed at developing what he described as world class export oriented special economic zones across the six regions of the country, pointing out that one of the factors leading to industrialisation is the development of special economic zones.

Enelamah who said the council consequently approved N2.655 billion to be paid to some consultants preparatory to the implementation of the projects, listed places where the economic zones would be sited to include Lekki, in Lagos, Aba in Abia State and Funtua in Katsina State.

He also said existing economic zones in Calabar and Kano would be elevated to world class standard. He added that pre-development work meant to herald the development of green field special economic zone will also commence in Akwa Ibom, Benue, Ebonyi, Edo, Gombe, Kwara and Sokoto States.

He said: “The ministry brought two memos. The first one is a memorandum that sought the council’s approval for effective implementation of Projects Made in Nigeria Exports, something called Project-MINE initiative which is aimed at developing world class export oriented special economic zones across the six geo-political zones of the country. And that memo was approved.

“That memo is anchored on creating the right enabling environment for special economic zones across the country. If you study other countries that industrialised rapidly, you will find out that one of the things they did right was to have these special economic zones and industrial parks that are world class which means that all the infrastructure are there and all the requirements are in place. And the plan is to begin the development of those special economic zones across the six geo-political zones as follows:

“We are going to do one in Lagos State Lekki Free Trade Zone Area, one in Katsina in Funtua Cotton Cluster Zone Area and another one in Abia in Enyimba City. We are also going to develop to world class standard in the existing two zones that the government has in Calabar and Kano. And in addition, the council also approved pre-development work to start and develop Green Field Special Economic Zone in Akwa Ibom, in Benue and in Ebonyi, Edo, Gombe, Kwara and Sokoto State with a further roll out to other locations in phase two.

“As you know, there were budgetary allocations both in the 2017 and also in the 2018 budget. Specifically, council approved today, payments to consultants totalling N2.655,785billion for various projects that would be undertaken by different consultants that would lead to the implementation of these zones.

Actually, that is just for one set of consultants. The aggregate amount which includes another set is N3.172,431billion. But the amount that has been invested in zones is much larger. The 2017 budget had over N40bilion. The budget also has over N40billlion in 2018.

“The total budget of developing these zones would be in excess of N250billion and it will include partners. This is going to be done through something called The Nigerian Special Economic Zones Company Limited, which is a public private partnership.

The federal government is going to own 20 per cent of that company and Afrexim Bank is going to be a shareholder and other investors like the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority and other international investors. It is going to be developed in such a way that it will be world class. We are going to see rapid implementation now that council approval has been obtained.”

Also briefing, Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, said the Joint Adminissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) secured council approval for the purchase of what he described as one of the CBT test organisations at the rate of N133 million.

According to him, the move was conceived to enable JAMB possess its own infrastructure meant to stop leakages which often characterise its examinations.

“JAMB had run their test for people who seek admission into universities using computer based testing agencies. And this been attended by leakages over time. And in order to stop that, JAMB has been able to set up their own infrastructure for conduct of these examinations.

“They have realised that they have not sufficiently covered the grounds. They have requested for government to buy up one of the CBT test organisations for N133million. They bought over the infrastructure, equipment and building. The effort is that JAMB wants to take total control of all of these examination processes in order to avoid leakages that had in the past attended their own examinations,” Shehu said.

 

Source: This Day

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